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can service dogs go on cruises?
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Can Service Dogs Go on a Cruise?

Wondering can service dogs go on a cruise? In this article, we’ll take a look at whether service dogs are allowed to go on cruises with their human handlers and get into the details. But the short answer is yes, with a bit (or a lot) of preparations, service dogs can definitely go on cruises!

Feel free to check out our other popular articles about whether service dogs can stay in hotels, and can service dogs in training fly?

can service dogs go on a cruise
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Psychiatric Service Dog “Sarge”

Can I Bring My Dog on a Cruise Ship?

Before you’ll be able to take your service dog on a cruise, you’ll of course need to do some preparations in advance. But it can be done.

Service Dog Going on a Cruise Checklist

You’ll need…

  • A letter or note from your doctor that says you require a service dog
  • Your service dog will need to have a health check
  • Your service dog will need to be up to date on their shots
  • You’ll need a certified letter from your veterinarian which says that your service dog (SD) is fit and in good shape to be able to travel as well as that they are up to date on all of their shots
  • You’ll need to notify the cruise line that you have a service dog so they can prepare a place for your dog to be able to go to the bathroom
  • If you’ll be flying as part of your trip, you’ll need to do the above for the airline, too
  • You’ll need a photo ID card for your service dog
  • You’ll likely need to have your service dog microchipped. If your dog isn’t, you’ll likely be able to get them microchipped at your local Human Society
  • Your dog will likely need to be spayed/neutered
  • Make sure you have your own passport ready
can service dogs go on a cruise ship
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Tips for taking your service dog on a cruise or planning your trip

  • Never leave your service dog alone in your room. Your dog will need to be with you at all times
  • There are some areas that service dogs may not be allowed, such as gym and pool areas
  • If you can find or know of a great travel agent, he/she/they will be able to help you greatly as they know what is needed and can work with you to make sure you have everything prepared ahead of time
  • Many of the cruise lines have travel agents that can help you for free
  • Make sure you do the preparations well ahead of time; don’t wait until one month before your cruise, it will take approximately a few months to get everything ready
  • Keep your service dog close to you at all times

Where do dogs go to the bathroom on a cruise ship?

Cruise lines provide areas, such as a relief area 4 feet by 4 feet with cypress mulch to accommodate service dogs, like the ones found on Royal Caribbean cruise lines. Sod for sailings that are from the U.S. can be provided if they are ordered in advance. Relief areas are a frequently provided on a shared basis with any other service dogs that may be onboard.

Can I bring my service dog on a Norwegian cruise?

Yes, absolutely. Norwegian Cruise Line does accept service dogs that – under the ADA definition – have been trained to perform a specific task or work for a person with a disability.

Can Service dogs go on a cruise with Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines?

Service dogs are permitted to accompany the person with a disability in all public areas, including dining venues. While in public areas, service dogs must be on a leash, harness or other restraining device. Due to health regulations, service dogs are not permitted in pools, whirlpools or spas.

Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines

Service dogs are permitted on Carnival Cruises

The only dogs Carnival permits aboard our ships are working service dogs, which are legally defined and individually trained to meet disability-related needs by performing tasks like guiding a blind person, alerting a deaf person, pulling wheelchairs, alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure, or performing other special tasks. Working service dogs are not pets.

Carnival Cruise Lines
can service dogs go on a cruise
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Good To Know…

  • Many ports of call have established strict entry requirements for animals, including service animals. Guests traveling with service dogs need to visit the Department of Agriculture website, and/or your animal’s veterinarian, to determine each destination country’s policy
  • Cruise lines are not responsible for limitations imposed on service dogs by entities or shore excursion providers when you arrive at foreign ports of call so it’s really important to do your homework
  • Many ports you may visit will only accept annual rabies vaccinations. They do not accept the three-year rabies vaccination
  • Mexican ports require all service dogs to have received an ecto-parasite and endo-parasite treatment 15 days or earlier prior to arrival to port. This important information needs to be included in your service dog’s health certificate
  • If your itinerary includes a visit to Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos Islands, these places require your service dog to travel with the necessary documentation which includes an import license. This is true whether or not your service dog will disembark in Grand Turk.
  • You need to carry all required documents with you (not in your luggage), along with your service dog’s current vaccination records. You will likely be asked to submit these records once aboard
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Sam is an experienced writer, advocate for people with disabilities and mental health, dog lover, artist, philosopher, and generally complicated human being.

Can Service Dogs Go On a Cruise?

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